Tag Archives: film music

Soundtrack Review: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

WaterTower Music has announced that the soundtrack for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is finally available for purchase. The soundtrack features 27 tracks composed for the motion picture by Daniel Pemberton. He is a multi Golden Globe, Emmy and Bafta Award-nominated composer who has been regularly cited as one of the most exciting and original new voices working in modern film scoring today. Constantly working with some of the most renowned names in the industry Pemberton has scored projects for the likes of Danny Boyle (Yesterday, Steve Jobs), Ridley Scott (All The Money In The World, The Counsellor), Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game), Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Edward Norton (Motherless Brooklyn), Louis Leterrier (Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance) and Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).

Regarding the score, composer Daniel Pemberton had the following to say:

One of the best things about writing this score was the fact I felt Harley Quinn as a character would be into anything – I can see her listening to whatever she wants: opera, metal, hip-hop, EDM, rockabilly, gospel, pop. I always felt she didn’t really care for one thing – she’d absorb them all and not give a f*** if anyone thought it was cool or not. So, I felt I’d do that with the music. In the same way she dresses like no one else, pulling disparate styles together to make something her own, I wanted to do the same with the score. Then couple that with a crew of other great larger-than-life characters and the completely unique take on Gotham that director Cathy Yan has created, a world with a kaleidoscopically colorful palate, you have something very special to inspire you.

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And the soundtrack for Birds of Prey truly is an eclectic collection of musical styles befitting the insane mind of Harley Quinn and the twisted world of Gotham. Anyone who describes this soundtrack as being “not much to listen to” really  hasn’t been paying attention. While it’s true that several of the tracks firmly belong to the pop rock genre, others, and I must cite “The Black Mask Club” by name, are more traditional, with an aura of menace generated by the strings.

I’m also a really big fan of the fast-paced electronic music that characterizes the early parts of the films (particularly Harley getting really drunk at the club). It really gets you into Harley’s state of mind, not just in the moment but as a whole. You have to remember that Harley Quinn is a crazy person at the core, and the electronic music fits that part of her perfectly. It’s frenetic, almost manic, and it symbolizes Harley’s insane mind racing along from one idea to the next with little to no concept of the consequences. “Harley Gogo Agogo” is a great example of this idea.

Of course a lot of the soundtrack is just fun to listen to, like “Battle Commences” and “Fight Together.” Pemberton is really skilled at weaving together music that heightens the action on the screen or making potentially dull moments interesting, it’s one of the reasons I like his work so much. There is always something going on in this soundtrack, and in this case that’s a good thing.

Track List

  • Flying High (Birds of Prey)
  • The Fantabulous Emancipation Explosion
  • Harley Quinn (Danger Danger)
  • Birds of Prey
  • Harley Gogo Agogo
  • The Black Mask Club
  • Stolen Diamond
  • Bad Ass Broad (Whistle MF)
  • Lonely in Gotham
  • Black Canary Echo
  • The Bertinelli Massacre (The Huntress Story)
  • Bump It!
  • Roman Sionis
  • Lockdown
  • Bruce and the Beaver
  • Lotus Flower
  • Femme Fatale
  • Breakout!
  • The Bertinelli Revenge
  • I Want To Kill You Because I Can
  • Zsasz Showdown
  • Work Together
  • Battle Commence
  • Fight Together (Birds Of Prey)
  • Founders Pier
  • Roller Vs Rollers
  • The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

I hope this review has inspired you to check out Daniel Pemberton’s soundtrack for Birds of Prey, which is available for purchase now. I certainly enjoyed listening to it, and it proves once again why Pemberton is one of my all-time favorite film composers.

Let me know what you think about the soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

My Thoughts on Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Film Soundtracks A-W

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Hercules “Zero to Hero” (1997)

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Hercules is one of my favorite films from the Disney Renaissance era. By this time (1997), the Renaissance had been in full swing for almost a decade, and everyone involved really had gotten what they needed to do down pat.

Case in point: “Zero to Hero” is a prime example of the perfect Disney song. It picks up immediately after Hercules’ victory over the Hydra and consists of the Muses narrating the young hero’s rise to fame through song, unwittingly defeating all of Hades’ attempts to stop him in the process.

 

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Person of the week in every Greek opinion poll
What a pro
Herc could stop a show
Point him at a monster and you’re talking S.R.O.
He was a no one
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero
Here was a kid with his act down pat
From zero to hero ― in no time flat
Zero to hero ― just like that

When he smiled
The girls went wild with oohs and aahs
And they slapped his face
On every vase (on every “vahse”)

Zero_to_Hero

From appearance fees and royalties
Our Herc had cash to burn
Now nouveau riche and famous
He could tell you what’s a Grecian urn

Say amen
There he goes again
Sweet and undefeated
And an awesome 10 for 10
Folks lined up
Just to watch him flex
And this perfect package packed a pair of pretty pecs

Hercie, he comes, he sees, he conquers
Honey, the crowds were going bonkers
He showed the moxie brains, and spunk
From zero to hero ― a major hunk
Zero to hero ― and who’da thunk?

maxresdefault

Who put the glad in gladiator?
Hercules!
Whose daring deeds are great theater?
Hercules!
Is he bold?
No one braver
Is he sweet?
Our favorite flavor

Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules
Hercules

Bless my soul
Herc was on a roll
Undefeated
Riding high
And the nicest guy
Not conceited

He was a nothin’
A zero, zero
Now he’s a honcho
He’s a hero

He hit the heights at breakneck speed
From zero to hero
Herc is a hero
Now he’s a hero
Yes indeed!

Now one thing you may not know about this song is that a live-action version was shot as reference material. Yes, even after all these years, in the 1990s Disney still used the trick of shooting certain sequences in live-action before animating them. And thanks to the wonderful creation known as YouTube, I can show that footage to you!

 

The sequence is intercut with the live-action muses and storyboards. What’s interesting, if you pay attention, is how the story change from the storyboard phase to the finished product. For instance, in the segment where Hercules takes down a giant serpent, it appears in the storyboard that they had the idea of having a Gorgon (Medusa maybe?) as his opponent. I love getting to see behind-the-scenes moment like this, and I hope you enjoy watching it as well.

It’s a great song, and it really makes it appear that Hercules is well on his way to becoming a true hero. But is he really? Well…this IS a Disney movie, so you know things won’t be quite THAT easy. However, that’s a story for another day.

Let me know what you think about “Zero to Hero” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Hercules “Gospel Truth” (1997)

Hercules “Gospel Truth II & III” (1997)

Hercules “Go the Distance” (1997)

Hercules “One Last Hope” (1997)

Hercules “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” (1997)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Frozen “For the First Time in Forever (reprise)” (2013)

The reprise of “For the First Time in Forever” is an interesting musical moment and an intriguing situation because there are several things happening at once. The most important thing is that Anna has succeeded in locating Elsa and is now attempting to persuade her to come home and undo the eternal winter she created when she fled Arendelle. On the surface, this seems like a great plan but it is automatically doomed to failure for a number of reasons.

Most of these reasons lie with Anna herself due to a problem that’s been developing since we first heard “For the First Time in Forever.” Here’s the thing: all this time Anna has been living in a completely different story from Elsa. Anna, up to this moment, is still the stereotypical Disney Princess: happy, bubbly, eternally optimistic, and a firm believer that “true love at first sight” can fix everything. Not only does this make her diametrically opposed to her sister and how she thinks, she also has no idea of what Elsa has been going through in trying to keep her ice powers hidden all this time, and is therefore going about her plan all the wrong way.

You don’t have to protect me. I’m not afraid!
Please don’t shut me out again
Please don’t slam the door
You don’t have to keep your distance anymore

‘Cause for the first time in forever
I finally understand
For the first time in forever
We can fix this hand in hand

We can head down this mountain together!
You don’t have to live in fear
‘Cause for the first time in forever
I will be right here

—————————–

Elsa tries gently to tell Anna to go home before she accidentally does something to make the situation worse, but Anna isn’t listening. She’s so convinced she can just “fix” this situation that she’s not taking in what Elsa is saying and, well, things get worse from there.

Anna…
Please go back home, your life awaits
Go enjoy the sun and open up the gates

Yeah, but-

I know!
You mean well, but leave me be
Yes, I’m alone but I’m alone and free!
Just stay away and you’ll be safe from me

Actually, we’re not
What do you mean you’re not?
I get the feeling you don’t know
What do I not know?
Arendelle’s in deep, deep, deep, deep… snow.

What?
You’ve kind of set off an eternal winter… everywhere.
Everywhere?
It’s okay, you can just unfreeze it.
No, I can’t. I— I don’t know how!
Sure you can! I know you can!

This is it, the crux of the entire scene and the climax of this reprise. We have Elsa and Anna singing two different songs at the same time. Anna’s convinced that her optimism will make this all better while Elsa is rapidly spiraling out of control with fear and self-loathing. She tries one last time to get Anna to stop forcing the issue (“Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!”) but her sister still isn’t listening. And then it comes, the moment that gets to me every single time: Elsa’s second to last note (“I”) morphs into an almost primal cry of frustration before she finally snaps out “I CAN’T!” and loses her temper, setting the second half of the film into motion.

Anna: (Elsa:)
‘Cause for the first time in forever
(Oh, I’m such a fool, I can’t be free)
You don’t have to be afraid
(No escape from the storm inside of me)
We can work this out together
(I can’t control the curse)
We’ll reverse the storm you’ve made
(Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!)

Don’t panic
(There’s so much fear)
We’ll make the sun shine bright!
(You’re not safe here)
We can face this thing together
(No…)
We can change this winter weather
(I…)
And everything will be all right…
(I can’t!!!)

I would never go so far to say that Anna brought this on herself, but this sequence does show why it’s not always wise to persistently offer help to someone when you don’t fully know the situation. Of course Anna means well, but her lack of information (admittedly not her fault since Elsa has kept her ice powers to herself since childhood) leads to catastrophic consequences in a sequence that is heart wrenching to watch.

Let me know what you think about the reprise of “For the First Time in Forever” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen “Frozen Heart” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever” (2013)

Frozen “Love is an Open Door” (2013)

Frozen “Let it Go” (2013)

Frozen “In Summer” (2013)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Frozen “In Summer” (2013)

Frozen has some genuinely funny moments scattered throughout its story, and one of the funniest happens with Olaf’s song “In Summer.” To recap, while making their way to Elsa’s ice castle in the mountains, Anna and Kristoff encounter Olaf, a living snowman that Elsa unwittingly made while fleeing Arendelle. Olaf is an interesting character in that he is a snowman fascinated with summertime and heat, two things that are definitely not healthy for a being made of snow.

Yet, Olaf seems blissfully unaware of the fact that experiencing summertime and heat is impossible for someone like him, as he breaks into song about all the things he can’t wait to experience when summer arrives.

Bees’ll buzz
Kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does in summer

A drink in my hand
My snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned in summer

I’ll finally see a summer breeze blow away a winter storm
And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm

And I can’t wait to see
What my buddies all think of me
Just imagine how much cooler I’ll be in summer

Dah-dah, da-doo, a-bah-bah-bah bah-bah-boo

The hot and the cold are both so intense
Put ’em together, it just makes sense!

Rrr-raht da-daht dah-dah-dah dah-dah-dah dah dah doo

Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle
But put me in summer and I’ll be a…happy snowman!

When life gets rough, I like to hold on to my dream
Of relaxing in the summer sun, just lettin’ off steam

Oh, the sky will be blue
And you guys will be there too
When I finally do what frozen things do in summer!

Kristoff: I’m gonna tell him.
Anna: Don’t you dare!

In summer!

Olaf is so delightfully clueless throughout the entire song. It’s also really funny to see a snowman dancing through a field of dandelions. Of course the answer for what “frozen things do in summer” is evident throughout, but Olaf either won’t acknowledge it or just doesn’t get it. The funniest moment of all, in a semi-dark way, is at the very end when Olaf sings about “But put me in summer and I’ll be a…happy snowman!” The rhyme, of course, should be puddle to go with cuddle in the preceding line, but Olaf deftly sidesteps the rhyme and goes his own way.

“In Summer” is a really funny interlude before things start to get dark in the story. Let me know what you think about “In Summer” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen “Frozen Heart” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever” (2013)

Frozen “Love is an Open Door” (2013)

Frozen “Let it Go” (2013)

Frozen “For the First Time in Forever (reprise)” (2013)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Frozen II “All is Found” (2019)

I’ve mentioned before that Frozen II is full of music, and it doesn’t take long for the songs to begin. Right at the very beginning of the film we get a song from Queen Iduna as she sings to the young Anna and Elsa (in a scene that is clearly set before the childhood accident that kicks off the events of Frozen). To help her daughters sleep, Iduna sings a song called “All is Found.”

It’s a beautiful song, and one that foreshadows the main story to come, where Anna, Elsa, and company go off to find Ahtohallan, the “river of memory.” It foreshadows much more also, including Elsa’s dive for information on the past of Arendelle, and also take note of the line “when all is lost, then all is found.” If you think about it, things get pretty bleak for our heroes before the answers begin to make themselves known. I love that the movie starts with a song that hints at everything to come.

Where the north wind meets the sea
There’s a river full of memory
Sleep my darlings safe and sound
For in this river all is found

In her waters deep and true
Lie the answers and a path for you
Dive down deep into her sound
But not too far or you’ll be drowned

Yes she will sing to those who hear
And in her song all magic flows
But can you brave what you must fear
Can you face what the river knows

Where the north wind meets the sea
There’s a mother full of memory
Come my darling homeward bound
When all is lost, then all is found

This song also serves as a bridge between the past and present, as a swift reprise of the song brings us flying to Arendelle where Queen Elsa continues to rule (though not as free of doubt as she pretends to be). While “All is Found” isn’t anywhere close to the level of “Into the Unknown” or “Show Yourself”, it is a lovely little song and a fine addition to the Frozen II soundtrack.

Let me know what you think about “All is Found” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen II “Into the Unknown” (2019)

Frozen II “Show Yourself” (2019)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

The Little Mermaid “Les Poissons” (1989)

As a general rule, I pride myself on having a pretty good memory where Disney’s animated films are concerned. Having grown up on them, and seen most of them dozens of times each, I can quote most of the songs in each film, if not entirely then at least their general premise. That’s why I’m so ashamed to say…I completely forgot about “Les Poissons” in The Little Mermaid. And when I say forget, I mean I completely forgot this sequence even existed (except for a vague memory of Sebastian being coated with flour).

Today I’m rectifying this lapse in memory by looking at a short song that would be purely funny in any other film, but actually takes on aspects of horror given the audience (Sebastian). The premise is simple: Sebastian, sneaking into the castle to keep an eye on Ariel, finds himself (to his horror), in the kitchen, where Chef Louis is happily preparing food for Prince Eric and company. Chef Louis was voiced by the late René Auberjonois, and at first appears to be a completely harmless character. That is until he starts chopping fish. Given how Sebastian has already sung a song to Ariel (“Under the Sea”) hinting at what happens to fish on land, this song is like all of the crab’s worst nightmares brought to life.

 

Nouvelle cuisine
Les Champs-Élysées, Maurice Chevalier

Les poissons, les poissons
How I love les poissons!
Love to chop
And to serve little fish.

(*Chop, chop, chop!*)

First I cut off their heads
Then I pull out their bones.
Ah mais oui, ça c’est toujours délice.

(Sebastian gags)

Les poissons, les poissons
Hee-hee-hee, hon-hon-hon
With a cleaver I hack them in two.

(Sebastian examines a dead fish’s head and gasps)

I pull out what’s inside
And I serve it up fried.
God, I love little fishes, don’t you?

chef-louis1.jpg

(Louis adds cooked fish to a platter)

Here’s something for tempting the palate
Prepared in the classic technique.
First you pound the fish flat with a mallet.

(Louis pounds the table hard)

Then you slash off their skin.
Give their belly a slice.
Then you rub some salt in
‘Cause that makes it taste nice.

Wow, for being a mere chef, Louis really does like to swing that cleaver around doesn’t he? Given how most of this song is scene from Sebastian’s perspective, the shadows, the entire scene really does come across as something like horror (and for a crab like Sebastian, that’s exactly what it would be). And like any horror film, it only gets worse for our little crab…
(Louis removes a leaf from the counter and finds Sebastian hiding underneath)

(Spoken) Zut alors ! I have missed one!

(Louis picks up Sebastian)

Sacrebleu ! What is this?
How on earth could I miss
Such a sweet little succulent crab?

Quel dommage, what a loss!
Here we go in the sauce.
Now some flour-I think just a dab.

chef-louis-little-mermaid.png

(Sebastian sneezes)

Now I stuff you with bread.
It don’t hurt, ’cause you’re dead
And you’re certainly lucky you are.

(Sebastian spits out the stuffed crab filling)

‘Cause it’s gonna be hot
In my big silver pot
Tootle-loo, mon poisson, au revoir!

In fitting Disney fashion, Sebastian quickly gets his revenge on Chef Louis, and a hilarious chase ensues, bringing the brief episode of “Les Poissons” to a close. Having rewatched the video several times, I can’t believe I ever forgot about this scene and I’m glad I finally revisited it. Let me know what you think about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Frozen II “Into the Unknown” (2019)

*warning: spoilers for Frozen II below

The other song that I really liked the most in Frozen II is “Into the Unknown”, Elsa’s first big solo in the story. In this song, Elsa addresses the mysterious voice that has been calling her in a voice that only she can hear. The song takes place late at night when everyone is asleep, everyone except Elsa, who can’t sleep due to the voice’s incessant calling.

Ah ah, ah ah
Ah ah, ah ah
Ah ah, ah ah ah ah

I can hear you but I won’t
Some look for trouble
While others don’t
There’s a thousand reasons
I should go about my day
And ignore your whispers
Which I wish would go away, oh oh

Ah ah, ah ah

Oh

Ah ah ah ah, ah

frozen2-into-the-unknown.jpg

Now what’s interesting about this song is that Elsa is turning the conventions of this song-type onto its head. Most Disney characters would simply sing about how they’re curious about this voice and want to go on an adventure. But Elsa openly defies this idea, saying “I’ve HAD my adventure (i.e. the first Frozen), go bother somebody else.” And yet, at the same time, Elsa also verges into traditional territory, admitting that she wants to follow the voice, but she’s afraid of the consequences. And this fear is understandable, since Elsa is queen and she has an entire country to think about.

You’re not a voice
You’re just a ringing in my ear
And if I heard you, which I don’t
I’m spoken for, I fear
Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within these walls
I’m sorry, secret siren, but I’m blocking out your calls
I’ve had my adventure, I don’t need something new
I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you

Into the unknown
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

Ah

Ah ah ah ah, ah, ah

What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake
Are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?
Or are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me?
Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?
Every day’s a little harder as I feel my power grow
Don’t you know there’s part of me that longs to go

Into the unknown?
Into the unknown
Into the unknown

571ea74f-f2ac-4857-8811-3706937cda1b-FROZEN_2_TRAILER_Desktop_Thumbnail.jpg

Another detail I like about this song is how Elsa imitates the voice at the end of each verse (the third time she sings “Into the Unknown” her voice ululates like the voice, showing how it’s slowly but surely influencing her).

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

Whoa oh oh
Are you out there?
Do you know me?
Can you feel me?
Can you show me?
Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

Ah ah ah ah

I also really like the sequence where Elsa…for lack of a better description enters the magic world where her ice magic seems to come alive around her. Apparently this somehow grabs the attention of the spirits (according to Elsa’s own explanation moments after this song ends) but I still don’t entirely understand how that happened. Storytelling issues aside, the “magic world” is beautifully rendered, and provides a brilliant example of how Elsa is literally getting lost in her magical abilities.

Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah

Where are you going?
Don’t leave me alone
How do I follow you (Ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah ah)
Into the unknown? (Ah, ah, ah!)

Having listened to this song a number of times, I can see why people are comparing it to “Let it Go” from the first film. It’s definitely a similar song in style, but the tone, to me, is different. “Let it Go” was about Elsa proclaiming her new identity and letting go of the past. “Into the Unknown” is about Elsa hesitating to follow a destiny that might take her away from all that she knows and loves, quite a different story than the first song. But while different, I don’t love it any less, and in fact I really enjoy the back and forth that Elsa has with the voice by the end of the song.

Let me know what you think about “Into the Unknown” and Frozen II in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Frozen II “All is Found” (2019)

Frozen II “Show Yourself” (2019)

My Thoughts on: Frozen II (2019)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook